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The Year Without Summer: 1816 and the Volcano That Darkened the World and Changed History Hardcover – February 26, 2013

ISBN-13: 978-0312676452 ISBN-10: 031267645X Edition: First Edition

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; First Edition edition (February 26, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031267645X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312676452
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.3 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #162,108 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

In April 1815, two giant eruptions from Tamboro, a supposedly latent volcano east of Java, pumped millions of tons of ash and sulfuric acid into the atmosphere. The immediate results were catastrophic, as the blast, lava, poisonous gases, and a tsunami destroyed entire villages. But the long-term effects, felt the following year, were more far-reaching and devastating. The massive expulsion of gas and dust formed clouds that circled the globe, deflected sunlight, and resulted in a significant lowering of temperatures, especially in the northern hemisphere. This cooling caused crop failures, famine, and social turmoil. The Klingamans lay out the scientific details of the disaster in a lucid, easily digestible manner. They also effectively integrate the natural calamities into a narrative that includes the political and social milieu of Europe and North America. This is an engrossing work that illustrates the fragility of societies when confronted with sudden and severe disruption of weather patterns. --Jay Freeman

Review

"Many people in North America and Europe believed that the freezing summer of 1816 foretold the end of the world.  Unaware that the invisible ash cloud that spread round the world from a volcanic eruption in Indonesia caused the aberrant weather, they thought the sun was dying. William Klingaman vividly portrays the myths and realities of that terrifying season." —James M. McPherson, Pulitzer-Prize-winning and New York Times bestselling author of Battle Cry of Freedom, Crossroads of Freedom, Abraham Lincoln and the Second American Revolution, and For Cause and Comrades

"When a volcanic eruption on a Pacific island swathed the earth with droplets, producing freakish weather that ruined harvests all over the world, how did people react? William and Nicholas Klingaman tell us how the year without summer affected an astonishing variety of people on different continents, including rulers and peasants, working families, Jane Austen and Mary Shelley. A book like nothing you've read before." —Daniel Walker Howe, Pulitzer-Prize-winning author of What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation Of America

"William K. Klingaman’s groundbreaking work will forever alter the way we view the years immediately following the War of 1812. Beautifully written in prose that will excite both expert and layman, it tells the remarkable story-in superb detail-of how in April 1815 the severest volcanic eruption in 2000 years on Mount Tambora disrupted the earth’s weather profoundly, and with it, the politics, economics, arts, and religious beliefs of an era. In every respect this is a marvelous book, impossible to put down." —George C. Daughan author of 1812: The Navy’s War

"Klingaman’s vibrant narrative carries us from Indonesia to Ohio as it traces the global effects of the Mt. Tambora eruption. The Year Without Summer is as dexterous at explaining the science of climatology as it is at describing how the endless rain in Geneva figured into Byron’s poetry or how New Englanders saw God’s wrath in the summer snowstorms that froze their fields." —Steven Biel, author of Down with the Old Canoe: A Cultural History of the Titanic Disaster

"Massive volcanic cataclysm, ash and global cold, failed harvests, social unrest, and Frankenstein to boot: Klingaman paints an intriguing, multilayered picture of the year when global climate went mad and a lot of people went hungry. The Year Without Summer is a sobering reminder of humanity’s vulnerability to natural disasters—in a world with far fewer inhabitants than today." —Brian Fagan, author of Beyond the Blue Horizon, The Great Warming and Elixir: A History of Water and Humankind

"Intrigued by the weather? You will be after reading The Year Without Summer. Writing with verve and flair, author William Klingaman shows how in 1816 an event in the Far East dramatically influenced weather patterns in Europe and the United States, causing summer blizzards, flooding, and deadly famines. This is a disquieting, but important, story that throws light on global weather patterns and our precarious hold on life." —John Ferling author of Independence, Almost a Miracle, and Setting the World Ablaze 

"The Year Without Summer puts Krakatoa in the shade. This is an erudite, vivid, and fast-paced narrative of the extraordinary consequences of the largest and deadliest known volcanic eruption in history. Linking the stories of a cast of royal, political and literary characters - Louis XVIII, Madison, Napoleon and Byron among them - as well as laborers, seafarers and rabble-rousers, William and Nicholas Klingaman help us visualize and understand how a remote Indonesian volcano helped to foment social, economic and political turmoil on both sides of the Atlantic." —Clive Oppenheimer, author of Eruptions That Shook the World and Volcanoes

"A thought-provoking account describing the far-reaching and long-lasting effects on Europe and America of a single volcanic eruption in the tropics. Tambora's 1815 outburst caused changes in weather patterns with negative impact on agriculture, resulting in famine and disease. Riots and political discord followed and worsened the socio-economic consequences of the Napoleonic wars in Europe. Such an aftermath provides a warning for what our living earth may have in store for the future." —Dr. Jelle Zeilinga de Boer, author of Volcanoes in Human History and Earthquakes in Human History

"The Year Without Summer shows how a volcanic eruption in Indonesia transformed life in the United States and Europe. William and Nicholas Klingaman have placed 1816 on the list of pivotal years in history and have provided a compelling account of the mushrooming effects of a natural disaster. This is environmental and world history at its finest." —Louis P. Masur, author of The Civil War, 1831, and The Soiling of Old Glory

"A great book about one of the least known and most devastating natural disasters in history." —Theodore Steinberg, author of Acts of God and Down to Earth

"The Klingamans lay out the scientific details of the disaster in a lucid, easily digestible manner. They also effectively integrate the natural calamities into a narrative that includes the political and social milieu of Europe and North America. This is an engrossing work that illustrates the fragility of societies when confronted with sudden and severe disruption of weather patterns." —Booklist
 
"An intriguing sidelight on the effects of climate change." —Kirkus Reviews


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Customer Reviews

This was a very interesting book.
letz
I actually half finished the book, then leafed through the rest, trying to se if it might get interesting somewhere.
book reader
Too much meteorological minutiae to be a book about living through the time period.
KarangGuni

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

45 of 47 people found the following review helpful By William Holmes VINE VOICE on March 16, 2013
Format: Hardcover
On April 5, 1815, the volcano Tambora on the island of Sumbawa began to erupt, culminating in a massive explosion on April 11-12. This event was the largest known volcanic eruption in the last 2,000 years, 100 times more powerful than Mt. St Helens in 1980, and 10 times as strong as the famous eruption of Krakatau in 1883. The blast pushed an estimated 55 million tons of sulphur dioxide gas into the atmosphere, producing a fine aerosol that blocked the sun and lowered temperatures around the world.

Europe and the Northeast United States began to feel the effects of Mt. Tambora's eruption almost a year later in 1816, when its impact on the atmosphere and the jet stream began to change the weather. The late spring and early summer of that year were extremely cold, with snow and ice appearing as late as June. The summer and the growing seasons were also very short, as the cold weather resumed in August and September. In that era, few people had any idea that a volcanic eruption could lower global temperatures, although Benjamin Franklin suspected as much after observing the effects that an eruption of the Icelandic volcano Laki had on Europe in 1783. Speculation in America and Europe was rife as to whether the cold weather foretold a coming judgment day, or whether sunspots meant that the sun was radiating less heat, or whether perhaps the sun was simply burning out. Even those who did not fear an apocalypse did not know how long the bad weather would last.

Set against the cold weather that the volcano put in motion is the human story of 1816.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By EdM on March 24, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This book presents a good historical narrative of the volcanic eruption of mt. tambura in indonesia in late 1815 and the consequences the following summer. The weather pattern at the time caused the volcanic particles to remain in the atmosphere rather than fall with the rain over the pacific. The result was less sunlight in new england and western europe. New England was very cold and dry the summer of 1816 with snow in june. The major impact was that the crops failed and the bad weather continued into 1817. Many farm families moved out of the northeast and migrated to Ohio,Penn.,and Indiana. The introduction of oatmeal as a staple food was related as wheat and corn became scarce. Western Europe saw cold, wet, damp conditions and their crops rotted in the fields.England passed the first of the welfare laws to allievate the starving poor while many (3,000) fled Ireland to the united states. France also had to deal with political unrest due to the many destitute that revolted against the high cost of bread. The first hundred pages allows the reader to appreciate the impact of a volcanic eruption has on global climate. The author does repeat often the weather conditions a bit too much-(april was cold,may cold,june still cold) which may cause some readers to browse the middle of the book. Sometimes the narrative gets off topic (the byron-shelly story) so after reading the book (279 pages) one gets that there was padding to reach the page count. The final rating should be 3.5 stars as the true core of the book would clock in at about 200 pages. However, the main impetus of the book succeeds where it should, allowing the reader to better understand 1816-the year without a summer.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jerry7171 on November 30, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Disaster books are always both fun and humbling to read. I've found more often than not that the naysayers of titles like this are often picking it up looking for either a voyeuristic, cheap thrill to see how many photos of the dead and dying there are or hope to have a complex topic like this spoon fed to them in a children's picture book format. Another words, it requires a reader to think and pay attention. Sadly, this isn't something many people in the last couple of generations have demonstrated themselves to be very good at.

I found the book was actually very entertaining and informative. I've watched a TV show on Discovery or the Science Channel a few times about the same event and this book filled in more details for me. How many people are aware of the connection between Tambora and Frankenstein? What about the problems Benjamin Franklin suffered from people blaming his new-fangled lightning rods for upsetting the natural electric currents in the atmosphere? Then there were the social upheavals and widespread unrest across Europe as well.

The people that complain about this book would be the ones I'd most strongly urge to buck up and crack it open again and read it more thoughtfully. The topic is timely and valuable. Things like this have happened many times in the past and it *will* happen again somewhere -- no matter what wish-fufillment types and denialists tell themselves.

This is a great book for armchair vulcanologists, history buffs and yes, even people like me who relish a good disaster to remind me of just how good I have it today.

Oh, just a little observation about the cover art: I am thrilled to see Frederic Edwin Church getting more exposure with the help of this book, but his painting of Cotopaxi (1862) is beautiful enough without the clumsy alterations to change it into a sub-tropical volcano on a seashore. If you'd like to see the original painting, go to the Detroit Institute of Art here: [...]
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